Amazon Taps Celebrities For Prime Day Buzz As New Member Growth Slows

Now that Amazon Prime Day has begun to rival Black Friday as a driver of sales, the company has turned to celebrity endorsements in order to boost sales and attract new Prime members amid sagging membership figures, according to Bloomberg

From Will Smith and his son slinging water to Kobe Bryant peddling deodorant – Amazon may have officially jumped the shark. They’ve even got actor and former Calvin Klein underwear model Mark Wahlberg pushing protein powder. 

Amazon’s competitors, meanwhile, are scrambling to put better deals in front of click-happy consumers. 

Discounted pressure cookers and gadgets just aren’t enough to stand out when shoppers can find a flurry of bargains elsewhere. Walmart started a competing four-day sale on Sunday. Target is emphasizing sales on its exclusive clothing and home goods shoppers can’t buy on Amazon. –Bloomberg

eBay is even trolling Amazon by offering a “crash sale” – alluding to Amazon’s website crashing last year – where it has placed deep discounts on smartphones, electronics and fashion. All of these competitors are emphasizing that you don’t need a paid membership like you do with Amazon.

In total, 250 retailers are staging their own sales to compete with Prime Day – up from 194 last year.

How is the celebrity push working so far?

So far it’s looking good for Amazon. On July 15, the company held a concert with Taylor Swift – while just about every Demographic is being represented by at least a B-list celebrity or better. 

As of Friday, the sale has so far generated about 12 billion media impressions – about the same amount that H&M was able to generate after striking a deal with Netflix to sell 80s style clothing featured in “Stranger Things”. 

It is estimated that shoppers are going to spend $5.8 billion on Amazon during the two day sale, an 11% increase from last year’s 36 hour sale when converted to spending per hour.

Stacy Jones, who runs the entertainment marketing agency Hollywood Branded said:  “Amazon is giving these celebrities the opportunity to sell their brands on a very powerful platform.”

The sale also shows CEO Jeff Bezos is new thinking about the value of celebrity promotion. Amazon had previously relied on customer reviews to drive sales instead of celebrity endorsements. But in 2016, when the company saw success after splurging for its first Super Bowl commercial that starred Alec Baldwin and Dan Marino, it became clear that celebrity promotion could be worth it.

To that end, Amazon debuted “The Celebrity Store” last year, which carries products endorsed by people like Zac Efron and Serena Williams – moves which pushed the online retail giant further into the influencer marketing realm and has prompted stars to seek out partnerships. Spiritcook enthusiast Lady Gaga has an exclusive line of beauty products coming soon, while Heidi Klum will be offering a new fashion program that will stream only on Amazon video next year.

“It’s amazing how much the needle has moved in the other direction,” said former Amazon ad exec Steve Susi. “We were told that Bezos resisted celebrity endorsements because it just seemed so inauthentic and un-Amazonian.”

The company says it has more than 100 million Prime members worldwide, but data shows that new subscriptions are slowing.

Josh Lowitz, co-founder of Consumer Intelligence said: “They can’t keep adding 10 million new Prime members every quarter because everyone has already made up their minds about that. This is more traditional marketing around a big sales event, which is more celebrity driven.”

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